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North Wales AM makes renewable energy fact-finding farm visit

Shadow environment and countryside minister Antoinette Sandbach made a fact-finding visit today (Friday October 18) to a Meirionnydd farming family that has made tremendous efforts over recent years to save costs and add to the farm income by installing renewable energy.

 

richard williams

Farmer Richard Williams welcomes Antoinette Sandbach to his farm

Farmers’ Union of Wales members David and Richard Williams farm in partnership with their father Glyn Williams at Tyfos, Llandrillo, near Corwen – a farming enterprise extending to over 1,000 acres of land in the Dee Valley and in the Berwyn Mountains.

In addition, they are tenants on a hill farm at Llangwm and have additional land at Wrexham for over wintering and summer grazing.

Stocking consists of Limousin Cross suckler cows and Texel x Lleyn ewes with all home bred replacements kept and reared. Stock is sold locally in the fat and store markets.

The family has taken an interest in agri-environment schemes and all their land has been in the Tir Goal scheme since 2003. They are currently considering whether to enter the Glastir scheme, a subject likely to be discussed at the farm visit.

tyfos biomass boiler

FUW president Emyr Jones, Richard Williams and his brother David with Antoinette Sandbach in the biomass boiler room

The Williams family moved to Tyfos over 100 years ago and Richard and David are the fourth generation at the farm. Over the years there has been a substantial expansion of the enterprise which included the purchase of nearby Branas Isaf Farm in 1992.

“It is a modern and hugely successful farming enterprise which also employs two farm workers and contractors for occasional work such as shearing,” said FUW Meirionnydd county executive officer Huw Jones.

“The business partnership is extremely keen to reinvest in the farm enterprise by diversifying into renewable energy and this has already involved taking benefit from solar panels and a small 30 Kwh hydro scheme in 2011.

“They have taken a keen interest in renewables and see this as an ideal opportunity for family farms. In recent months they have installed a biomass boiler on the farmyard which has now been running for over a month.

“This represents a huge saving on their own energy and is expected to produce 200,000 Kw a year of heat, for which they will be paid under the Government Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme.

“As there is plenty of wood on the farm itself from the 150-acre woodland, the family sees this to be an extremely efficient way of generating heat.”

Other enterprises include a 4Kw domestic solar panel installation on one of the farm houses which provides additional income. The family also has an interest in wind farm schemes and is also considering anaerobic digestion.

They are a family constantly looking for new ideas and ventures to boost income.

Richard said: “Not only do these schemes reduce business costs and boost our own income but we are able to offer additional work to a range of local contractors such as electricians, plumbers, plant operators, forestry workers and builders.

“The shadow minister’s visit to Tyfos farm will be an opportunity to discuss our business enterprise and an opportunity to consider any concerns about the future direction of the industry.”

North Wales AM Ms Sandbach said: “I found my visit to Tyfos most interesting. The Williams family are to be congratulated on the way they are moving their business forward with techniques that harness the power of our natural resources, and also offer work for local contractors.

“Renewable energy projects are a way for farmers to manage their bills, and bring in extra income, so they can remain competitive in an international market.

“Welsh produce is among the best in the world but it has to be priced to match consumer demands. I was also most interested in the issues that the Williams family raised about other problems that the industry is presently facing.”

 

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